Many of the caregivers in the United States are family members whether it is children taking care of elderly parents or grandparents looking after young grandchildren according to. He did something about it last week.
Dold brought more than 40 agencies or individuals together for a Family Caregivers and Seniors Expo Nov. 21 in Vernon Hills and more than 250 people from the area showed up to learn what they could do to help.
“Many of the caregivers are family members,” Dold said. “We want to give them an opportunity to learn what resources are available. This is something we can do to get the word out.”
People like Peggy O’Conner of Highland Park were there staffing her booth to share the work she has done as an advocate for grandparents talking care of grandchildren. Margie Fisher of Libertyville, who works at the of Deerfield, learned more about helping those she serves.
“One of my responsibilities is running support groups,” Fisher said. “I came here hoping to learn something and I’ve been here all morning. I got a lot of tips.”
Fisher holds support groups for people caring for seniors twice a month both helping them and assisting them aiding each other. “They get education and support,” she said. “It helps when they can talk to each other.”
O’Conner, whose book “Born Into Love” details the advantages of grandparents raising grandchildren when parents are unable, has been a longtime advocate of the idea. This is a situation where both can help the other recover from a setback.
“They (the grandparent) are dealing with the loss of their own child in some degree,” O’Conner said. She cites both death and the inability of parents to care for their own children because of a failing. “The grandparent can give them (the grandchildren) a healthy life.”
When a child is cast into a situation of losing a parent to any degree, O’Conner worries how the youngster is dealing with rejection. With a grandparent at the helm, that difficulty is reduced.
“The love is unconditional,” O’Conner said. “No matter what you do I will still love you,” she added. This is the message she believes a grandparent gives to a grandchild.
Dold sees some practical benefits stemming from O’Conner’s advocacy. When grandparents get involved they keep the government out of it. “It saves millions in foster care,” Dold said. According to O’Conner the number is $7 million in Illinois alone.
Esther Craven of Buffalo Grove, who works for the Council for the Jewish Elderly, was telling people at her booth about adult senior services her group offers in Deerfield. If a caregiver for a senior has to go shopping or just needs a break, a loved one can spend time at the center.
“They can do arts and crafts,” Craven said describing some of the activities. “We have engaging speakers, book reviews and movie discussions. You can bring someone for a long or short period of time.”
The in Northfield also offers an assortment of services for both those in need and their caregivers according to Heather Resnick who handles some of the programs. One of those services is providing a respite for the caregiver without charge.
“Sometimes the best of caregivers need a break,” Resnick said explaining it makes them better at what they do. “We can offer a break to a caregiver who needs it and can’t afford it.”